Breastfeeding, Donor Milk and Me

22-IMG_0244Since having twins last year, I have been committed to breastfeeding them.  I NEVER judge others for their choice, or their decision to formula feed.  It is, however, my personal choice, and I’m wicked stubborn.

Since June, I cannot tell you how many times I have been pushed to try formula.  I have been criticized for my choice and encouraged by many family, friends and providers to switch.  I have been called selfish, I have been criticized and I have left conversations doubting my ability to provide adequate calories.

Add that to clogged ducts, lip ties, tongue ties and overall terrible latches, and it’s been pretty shitty.  I love nursing and I love that the boys have had only breastmilk and nutritious foods, but the actual process has been hard.

And then I accepted my first bags of donor milk.

I had bronchitis and I was in the ER.  My cousin over-nighted it (yes, that’s a thing).  17 ounces.  It got me through a day of dehydration, fever, and overall feeling lousy.  She has twins too, so she didn’t hesitate.  She just called FedEx.

Then

A high school friend walked up to me at a community event and offered it. I wanted to say no, because I don’t need anyone’s help.  *lie*

But I said yes.  Tears flooded my eyes and I couldn’t make any more words.  This amazing human being delivered it to my house in 3-4 oz bags and helped me get through a huge growth spurt.  I don’t know how I would have survived that week without that milk.

Then

Dunkin Donuts and Lansinoh
Drinks all around!

My best friend had her baby.  She would drop off bags every once in a while, sometimes with a coffee….(I have amazing friends)  Her baby was 6 weeks old when this started.

Now, if I need a few ounces she comes over and pumps to put it in the fridge.  That is love.  That is support.

Then

A random person on Facebook reached out to me.  She had found me through Human Milk 4 Human Babies and she wanted to help.  I picked up a huge bag of pumped, creamy, fatty, amazing milk for the boys.  I cried as I accepted it.  I cried because this amazing gift nourishes my boys, and therefore nourishes me.

I know that not everyone can donate, and not everyone feels comfortable sharing milk, or accepting shared milk.  For me, it’s like holding my hand.  This is fucking hardMotherhood is hardNursing is hard.  So to you, women in my life who have given me this gift…

Thank you — Because I don’t think you really knew…

You didn’t know that I have often felt like I’m *not enough*; that there is not enough of me to go around.  Between two babies, my beautiful daughter and my amazing husband, I’m spread thin.

You didn’t know that I have been accused of being *not enough* by others, judged for not using formula, for not feeding cereal (it constipates them) or for not choosing the same route that others have chosen for their children.

You didn’t know that the day they were born, a nurse told me that I shouldn’t be upset if they need formula, and I wasn’t even off the surgical table.

You didn’t know that there are people who have broadly challenged my parenting choices, and brought me to question myself.

You didn’t know that I celebrate when my sons maintain their weight curve above the 5th percentile

You didn’t know that I have cried over this, A LOT.  I have sat with my crying babies, rocking them, nursing them, drinking quarts of water at a time, feeling like I’m failing.

You didn’t know that I sighed a huge relief when I opened my freezer and had those medela, lansinoh, nuk bags waiting for us.

You didn’t know; now you do.

Thank you

Scary Mommy

Postpartum Anxiety

Let me tell you a little something about anxiety, for those who may not understand.  We all have it.  It’s the feeling before a job interview, on a first date, or while you’re running your feverish child into the emergency room.  Anxiety is natural and I believe it happens to everyone.PostPArtum Anxiety

The difference is that some people suffer from anxiety when it’s not necessary.  Some stress over what others would consider to be no big deal.

This can especially happen after the birth of a baby.  This is twofold.  On one hand, you have a new baby and all the world is so dangerous.  You may have sped across town, blaring music with your hair flying out the window.  Now, you’re looking 3-4 times before you cross a railroad crossing.  Now, you’re turning down your music for delicate eardrums.  You’re checking their skin for redness, finding cradle cap, altered hair patterns, birth marks, your senses detect every peep, every fart, every turn.

You don’t sleep as much because you are ready to pounce out of bed at the first sign of anything….anything at all.

But then, there’s the anxiety that isn’t as grounded.  The creeping suspicion that your child is sick, with no symptoms.  You need to watch them while they sleep, just in case.  You, perhaps, don’t let other people take them, watch them, feed them, change a diaper.  You may not do any of these things, but you’re just stressed. ALL. THE. TIME.

This may be you, it may be your partner.  It’s real.  This is not something to “get over”.  This is nothing to write off as paranoia.  This is different.

Pay attention.

Here are 5 things you can do, to help a person who is suffering from anxiety, or an anxiety attack

     1.  Validate This is, by far, the most important thing that a person with anxiety can hear.It’s not up to you to fix the problem, but to validate their feelings.“I understand, this is a really hard thing you’re dealing with”.“Your baby is obviously sending you signals and it’s amazing that you’re working so hard to pick them up”. “Being a new mom is really hard, you’re doing a great job keeping everything together

     2.  Reassure This looks like number 1, but it’s not as focused on the actual topic of panic.This is a general reassurance that everything is safe.
“It’s ok to feel this way”
“We have all had feelings like this”
“you are more normal than you think”
“You are safe with me”
“You can let this out”
“Let’s talk more about that, I want to hear it

     3.  Physically Comfort Offer a hug, hand holding, or just a glass of water.  This may be not touching, but getting your loved one to a comfy chair, or turning the lights down.  Provide safe space for this person.  If holding the baby or getting help to remove the baby to another safe space is necessary, provide that.  This is a doula-esque role.  Allow this person to do what they need to do, and not have to think about anything outside of themselves.

     4.  Support the Turn Around When it’s time to stop, when the reality of “life is ok” comes back, allow that person to come back without drawing attention to the drastic nature of their panic.“Wow, you really were freaking out” is not something that will help to build back the foundation of this person, your partner, your friend.Instead, just be silent until you really get a feel for what this person needs.  Attune to them.
Are they laughing?
Are they embarrassed?
What can you say to help them rebound in a gradual way?

     5.  Know When it’s Time to Call for Backup I am not a doctor or a psychologist.  There are incidences of postpartum depression and anxiety that require medical attention.Know when it’s too much for you.  Call a mother, a spouse, a sibling.  If necessary, call for medical help.  This person’s anger or backlash will be nothing compared to your conscience if something were to happen.

Anxiety can be debilitating.It can keep new mothers in their homes, crying by themselves during naptime.It can keep new parents from being functional, or taking a break.It is difficult.

The lesson here is that you MUST meet the anxious person where THEY are, not where you think they should be.

Keep that in mind, and you’ve just become an ally.

http://www.postpartum.net/get-help/in-an-emergency/
http://mainedoulas.com –postpartum doulas